Sunday 10 September 2017

Book ~ "Toronto and the Maple Leafs: A City and Its Team" (2017) Lance Hornby

From Goodreads ~ On December 19, 2017, the Toronto Maple Leafs officially turn 100. In the spirit of the centenary celebrations, Toronto and the Maple Leafs explores the city’s relationship with its most beloved sports team. No matter how many times the Jays and Raptors make the playoffs, it’s a Leafs game that still brings the city together on a cold Saturday night and fuels the talk shows all summer. But why are fans so absorbed by a team that has not won a Cup in 50 years?

Veteran Leafs and NHL columnist Lance Hornby gives readers an insider’s perspective on how the pulse of the city and team became one through two world wars, the Depression, the zany Harold Ballard years, and, until recently, dysfunctional hockey operations. Toronto and the Maple Leafs includes insights and stories from Mayor John Tory to Joe Fan; from influential voices of the Leafs, such as Foster Hewitt and Joe Bowen, to the ushers, cleaners, and ticket scalpers. Not to mention a funeral director who performs Leafs-themed services.

An unforgettable book about the good teams, bad games, and bizarre times of this franchise’s history, this is the perfect companion for every Leafs fan.

Though I don't dislike hockey, I will admit that I'm not a hockey fan.  This book caught my eye because I am interested in Toronto and its history and the Toronto Maple Leafs obviously are part of that history.

The author of this book, Lance Hornby, has covered the Maple Leafs and the National Hockey League as a Toronto Sun beat writer and columnist going on 25 years. An avid historian and member of the Society for International Hockey Research, he has written, co-authored or edited six books, including the Story of Maple Leaf Gardens and Hockey's Greatest Moments. He has appeared on Sportsnet, TSN, CBC and LeafsTV.

The Maple Leafs were founded in 1917, known as the Toronto Arenas.  Under new ownership, the club was named the Toronto St. Patricks in 1919.  In 1927 the club was purchased by Conn Smythe and renamed the Maple Leafs.  They were one of the "Original Six", one of six NHL teams to have made it through the league during the Great Depression.  They have won 13 Stanley Cups, second only to the 24 championships of the Montreal Canadiens.  They last won the Stanley Cup in 1967 and fans have been waiting 50 years, the longest current streak in the NHL, for them to win another.

I found the stories in this book interesting.  They were short and bite-sized and covered things such as the beginning of the Leafs, the Harold Ballard years, playing in Maple Leafs Gardens and then the Air Canada Centre (ACC), super fans, employees, players past and present, and more.  There are stories and quotes from the players, employees and fans.

The last chapter lists the Leafs' top 100 by numbers ... for example:

  • 3 - the number of rinks the Leafs have called home (Mutual Street, Maple Leaf Gardens and the ACC)
  • 6 - the number of overtime periods of the longest Leafs playoff game (April 3 to 4, 1933)
  • 11 - the number of "Smiths" who have played for the Leafs
  • 47 - NHL teams the Leafs have played against, including defunct clubs
  • 79 - the number of game-winning goals by Mats Sundin, the club record
  • 97 - the number of games by Tim Horton in the playoffs, the most played by a Toronto defenceman

As a non-fan, I found this book interesting.  If you are a Maple Leafs' fan, you'll probably love it!

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